William Woods University has long enjoyed a lofty status of having perhaps the premiere equestrian science program in higher education in the U.S., partially thanks to its faculty and alumni representation across the country. Due to being well-known in many show circuits during its history and through the efforts of a recent alumna, William Woods recently became the host location for a Miss Rodeo Missouri Pageant Association clinic, which took place this year on August 4th.
The Miss Rodeo Missouri clinic teaches girls as young as nine, up through their teenage years, on how to be a great representative for the equine community. It is not your standard beauty pageant, as contestants are judged heavily on their horsemanship skills and knowledge. The three categories that they are judged on during the annual pageant include personality, appearance, and horsemanship. Miss Rodeo Missouri 2018, Ashley Bauer, ’16 MED ’17, received a head-start on her horsemanship knowledge by attending William Woods University.
Bauer came to WWU with a goal to work in equine-assisted therapy. While completing her MED, she was also able to serve as a graduate assistant in the equestrian studies department, allowing her to learn from a completely different perspective on the program. It was during this time, while working as a graduate assistant, that Bauer decided to run for the Miss Rodeo Missouri title.
“All of the equestrian faculty were super supportive of me taking time off to run for this title,” she said. “Some of the staff even came to my coronation and send-off parties! You gain a great family when you attend William Woods University.”
Bauer served as Miss Rodeo Missouri in 2018 and was able to travel all over the United States, including many rodeos in Missouri. This year, she was back, volunteering at the clinic with current Miss Rodeo Missouri representatives.
“As soon as I finished my time with Miss Rodeo Missouri, I had so many job opportunities due to my experiences,” said Bauer. “My friend Danielle Williams convinced me to run for the title, and she won the teen title the same year. We had a blast together and she is back helping us with the clinic today!”
Bauer volunteered at the clinic along with Miss Rodeo Missouri Pageant Association President Kim Mustin, current queens, Aubrey Sullivan and Kaitlyn Ayers, and Danielle Williams. Ayers, Miss Rodeo Missouri 2019, comes from Sikeston, Missouri and is the representative for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
“I travel to rodeos all across the state and help with public relations, keeping the crowd involved, and am always available to answer any questions,” said Ayers. She helped prepare the girls at the William Woods clinic to run for any title. Miss Rodeo Missouri starts accepting contestants at 14, but many girls can run for titles at local rodeos at a younger age.
“Contestants have to complete interviews, a written test, show their horsemanship skills, and model the current fashion in rodeo,” said Aubrey Sullivan, Miss Teen Rodeo Missouri for 2019. “To be Miss Rodeo Missouri, you need to have good horsemanship skills. When you are showing up to a rodeo as Miss Rodeo Missouri, you are not always riding your own horse, so you need to be able to handle the horse they have for you and keep that smile on your face.”
Contestants may be asked questions about rodeo rules, PRCA rules, personality questions, current events, or horsemanship questions. This clinic does not focus on just the knowledge the women of rodeo need to know, but on building confidence to represent the equine community.
“We like to have this clinic a month or two before the pageant so the girls have time to work on the recommendations we give them,” said Mustin. “We love coming to William Woods University to host this clinic because not only is it centrally-located, but William Woods shares our rich history with horses. Since William Woods has a great western riding program, it’s a perfect fit for us,” she said.
The 2020 Miss Rodeo Missouri Pageant will be held in conjunction with the American Royal Rodeo September 26th-28thin Kansas City, Missouri. Applications can be found online at missrodeomo.com and will be accepted until September 7th. There is a Teen and Miss division. Contestants have the chance to win a saddle, chaps, custom belt buckle, autograph bag, scholarships and more!
And as an added bonus, the Miss Rodeo Missouri clinic fell on the same day that “Thunder,” mascot of the NFL’s Denver Broncos, was on William Woods University campus, allowing the young equestrians the chance to meet another great ambassador in the equine world. Not to mention more evidence of William Woods’ elite status in the equine industry.